The intoxicating smell from the ground. Musty yet pleasant.
Better than the pungent smell from the toilet.
Baba Fatima had refused to fix the pumping machine since it broke down over a month ago and I was in no mood to walk ten (10) miles to get water.
Tragically, I couldn’t afford to pay anyway…
The windows creaking from age, the doors slightly banging against the wall because the hinges had started to rust…
Power was out.
This I was used to due to delayed payments.
The oil in the lamp was running out.
It was yet another cloudy day. The third day in a row.
The rain became my shelter and this darkness has become my haven.
Would this weather ever let up? Or are these just excuses I use to procrastinate the inevitable?
Waiting on the miracle that never comes because I had run out of luck.
The phone rang and I spun around. Almost in utter shock that my battery hadn’t run out.
Impoverishment still surprises me.
My first instinct was to ignore the call. Maybe if I let it ring long enough, the battery will run out. Just like everything else I had. None I owned.
Then again, I decided not to be proud in poverty.
Just as I reached for the phone, boom! The call ended.
It was him. Mr Smith!!!
Calling for the third time.
How did I miss the first two calls?
Right – this phone isn’t as reliable as it used to be. It chooses when to sound, charge and generally function.
My luck had actually run out…
Not because my battery died but because i had no way of returning the call.
How about a text? – Insufficient balance!
To flash? So I redialled…
The operator responded; “sorry, you do not have enough credit to call this number”
While muttering all the curse words I know, I kept dialing; all to no avail.
To borrow or not? – exceeded the amount permissible.
Never in a million years would I have imagined that I’d be living my worst nightmare.
My present predicament is a far cry from the man I ought to be.
Despite graduating with honors after studying Equestrian Psychology and Sports Science.
Truth is, I had no idea what the course entailed when I decided to go for it. It sounded exotic and that was what the decision was based on.
Got the grades. Getting the job has been problematic in a nation where there are few horses and possibly no ranches.
No way to relocate back to the U.K so as to push my luck with this degree.
“Suffer get level but this my own na baba…” I muttered out of frustration.
Finally! A job interview callback. Finally!!!
Sadly, I can’t return the call to confirm my interest in the position and I can’t afford to transport myself to the location to say it in person.
What is life but a pot of burnt beans?
To shower is another battle.
#10 per bucket to fetch from mama Salami’s compound is unavailable.
I heard the sound of footsteps approaching and immediately, it dawned on me that it had to be the landlord – Baba Fatima whom I had been avoiding less I pay my rent.
Life had defeated me, I decided to let him into the filth that had become of the apartment he leased to me.
I had gotten to the point of no return, so I let him in.
Upon entry, he glared at me for minutes.
Almost as if he stared into my soul and then he said to me “my son, na so your own come be?”
Tears trickled down my face uncontrollably. The beads of sweat that had been sitting on my forehead suddenly started to feel like I was being baptized.
At that moment, I felt both relief and shame. An inexplicable release.
Baba Fatima shook his head over and over again, then finally said “you sure say na real school you go? With all these grammar you dey speak, you no even get radio for house?”
There was no judgement in his voice. All I read from his face was pity.
Sure, his choice of words may come off as rude but he was just being the brutally honest man he had always been.
Finally, he looked me dead in the eye and asked “which way forward?” And I replied “I just need credit to confirm this job interview plus transport fare to go in”
He smiled and said “done“.
That was it.
It was done.
I was done with poverty.
I accepted the job as a sales representative with a starting salary of #50,000 but heck; it sure will cover my bills and revive my life.
Did luck guide Baba Fatima to my door that day?